Throughout Las Vegas, many beautiful, water-efficient and well-planned landscapes remain private and out of view to the public. Each spring, the Garden Conservancy, in partnership with the Southern Nevada Water Authority, opens doors to select landscapes with its annual Open Days program. This year, four private Southern Nevada residential gardens will be open for public viewing Saturday.
Open Days garden tours are self-guided and will take place rain or shine. Admission to each garden is $5 per person. For more information, go to www.gardenconservancy.org. For directions to each garden, use www.mapquest.com.
The idea behind Open Days is to provide the public with a glimpse into how neighbors transformed their gardens into colorful, low water-use oases, and how to adapt those lessons to their own landscapes. All these landscapes were winners in the water authority’s Landscape Awards contest. Here are the gardens on display:
■ “Desert Display” (10024 Summit Canyon Drive, Las Vegas, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.): The primary aim of this garden is to disprove, in a most convincing and beautiful manner, the commonly held view that the Mohave Desert plant palette is limited and plain.
■ “Norm’s Sunrise Garden” (767 Rossmore Drive, Las Vegas, open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.): This garden reflects a passion for horticulture and a firm belief that a good landscape reconnects us with nature while promoting sustainability.
■ “Rosenthal Garden,” (4053 Spitze Drive, Las Vegas, open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.): In our harsh environment, it is possible to create a joyous and calm space that attracts birds, provides welcome shade, and above all, brilliant colors, textures and aromas all year.
■ “The Zeldenrust Garden” (300 Redondo St., Henderson, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.): This garden is a metamorphosis from the tropical, suburban wall-to-wall lawn. There are four separate sitting areas and patios in this garden.
VINE CROPS: TASTY AND BEAUTIFUL
It’s planting time for watermelons, cantaloupes, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, gourds and cucumbers. Envision an ice-cold watermelon or cantaloupe filled with ice cream. If anything says “summer,” it’s these crops.
Join me to explore the benefits of these vining vegetables at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Call 822-7786 for reservations.
Collectively we call these vegetables vine crops, but experts call them cucurbits. Nursery seed racks now have bush varieties for smaller gardens and containers.
Vine crops produce tendrils, so let them climb trellises. Support fruit by placing melons in women’s hosiery. The elasticity allows melons to expand as needed.
Vine crops are sun worshippers, so give them plenty of light.
Vines hate our soils. To conquer this problem, blend liberal amounts of organic matter and a vegetable fertilizer into the soil before planting.
After seedlings emerge, give them plenty of elbow room for proper development.
Notice pictures on seed packets, because they tell you the ideal stage of harvest. Case in point, harvest zucchinis when they are 8 to 10 inches long. That’s when they’re best.
Vines are fussy drinkers. Like camels, they want large quantities of water infrequently, not sips every day. That is why you experience poor fruit set. Mulch will spread out waterings even more.
When vines start spreading, give them a water-soluble fertilizer high in phosphorous every two weeks and water in.
The first blossoms to emerge are always males. Two weeks later, female blossoms show up. Male blossoms drop off after a day. It is Mother Nature’s way, so be patient.
Some zucchinis begin developing, fruit and then wither because they were not pollinated. It takes early morning bee activity to transfer pollen to set on. Bees like other flowers more and go to them.
ECO ART ON EARTH DAY
Earth Day is a celebration of the environment for children. This workshop encourages children to use natural materials such as clay, seeds and plants to create eco-friendly goodies for their garden. It’s at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve. Guardians must accompany children at this event.
CLARK COUNTY FAIR
When you think of fairs, you imagine displays of quilts, fruits, vegetables, flowers and animals with award-winning ribbons on them. This fair has all of this and more. Come admire the exhibitors’ handiwork and take in the rodeo. The fair is Thursday to April 11 at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Logandale. For more information, go to www.ccfair.com.
Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@ springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.